Antidepressants: Fears, Myths and Misconceptions

6 Facts about Depression Treatment

Most people have quite a symbolic idea of antidepressants. What are they needed for? Does their intake mean serious mental problems? Do they improve mood? Do they change man’s temper? In this article Canadian Health&Care Mall has collected all popular questions about antidepressants and depression treatment.


What are Antidepressants and When are they Prescribed?

Antidepressants are psychotropic medications that help depressed patients to cope with anguish, anxiety, apathy. They contribute to mood and appetite improvement and sleep normalization.

The main indication for antidepressants is depression. Also, these drugs are prescribed to treat panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive and anxiety disorders, bulimia, sleep disorders, bipolar personality disorders and so on.

1. How do Antidepressants Work?

Antidepressants slow down disintegration and increase concentration of serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline and other neurotransmitters, responsible for mood. Depending on clinical manifestations of depression, doctor may prescribe to patient:

  1. antidepressants-sedatives, relieving anxiety and agitation;
  2. antidepressants-stimulants, stimulating psyche in case of apathy and lethargy;
  3. antidepressants of balanced action, which effect depends on daily dosage.

Antidepressants affect weight, while taking them, it is difficult to lose weight. Excluding non-starchy foods and sweets is not enough, it is necessary to speed up metabolism.

2. Is it Possible to do without Antidepressants?

In case of mild depression, antidepressants are rarely appointed as risks of their reception may exceed benefits. Disease severity is determined by doctor. If therapeutic methods do not help patient to cope with depressed mood and depression symptoms persist or increase, it is not recommended to refuse from medications.

Do not think that depression is just bad mood, which happens to everyone. Its severe form can last for months or years, making it difficult for a person to work, interact with people and enjoy life. In some cases, depression is the cause of suicide.

3. Is Treating Depression Shameful?

Many people believe that seeking help of a psychiatrist or psychotherapist is recognition of mental disability. It is far from truth: diagnosis «depression» does not make a person defective, it is necessary to get registered in mental hospital or for a lifetime take medications.

Most likely, a person will just have to take a course of antidepressants, which will improve chemical processes in brain, and depressive episode will be forgotten like a bad dream. In case of severe depression, patient may be sent to emergency center, operating on health and recreation resort principle. Patient can be involuntary registered and put in hospital only in case of repeated suicide attempts, but here we are talking about saving human’s life.

4. Are Antidepressants Addictive?

Antidepressants are not addictive. Even if patient takes medications for more than two years, withdrawal syndrome (typical of any medication) will not last for more than 2 – 4 weeks, until complete drug components clearance from the body. In any case, addiction to antidepressants is a myth which is not confirmed by neither psychiatrists nor patients themselves.

Patient’s temper does not change as a result of taking antidepressants, but they may decrease activity, memory and concentration. In any case, this is also true for depression itself, which is slowly but surely suppresses a person.

5. Are Antidepressants Available without Prescription?

Only a qualified specialist should select drugs and dosage. Otherwise, a person is at risk to either not feel effect or worsen depression. Healthy people cannot improve their mood with antidepressants because their condition is not related to neurotransmitters activity. In addition, you should know that each patient has its own antidepressant threshold, and if the drug does not reach it – there is no therapeutic effect.

6. Are Antidepressants Very Harmful?

antidepressantsSince antidepressants are potent drugs, effects from their administration may be correspondent. They differ depending on drug type and its dosage, but common side effects are: insomnia, loginess, fatigue, cognitive impairment, sensory disturbances, anxiety, tremors, sexual dysfunction and so on. Antidepressants overdose is a deadly dangerous condition that requires immediate hospitalization.

After long-term use of antidepressants it is recommended to gradually withdraw the drug. Otherwise there is a risk of withdrawal syndrome. It may take, at average, one week.

Thus, antidepressants may be useful and safe humans only when they are a part of individual therapy. Depression self-medication is dangerous, and can lead to irreversible consequences.